In Defense of Crispy Eggs: You Actually Want Those Whites Frizzled

by Gabriella Vigoreaux

photo by Linda Pugliese, food styling by Chelsea Zimmer

This is an egg rant.

You might remember last week we posted an article titled Breakfast Revolution that featured four new recipes from some of our favorite chefs across the country. One of these recipes, the Shishito Pepper Potato Hash with Fried Eggs, seemed to stir up a little controversy on social media regarding the appearance of the egg. 

“A perfect egg does not need the ugly crust.”

“Eggs are scorched! Yuck!”

These comments, among others, caused much pain in my heart. Why? Because I am a life-long supporter and advocate of the crispy, frizzled egg.

Something about the alchemy of the caramelized edges, with their silky oozing egg yolk, is enough to make me swoon.

Crispy eggs, or what many people call Spanish fried eggs, are fried very quickly in very hot olive oil (or a combination of olive oil and butter). The result is a perfectly firm egg white with delicately caramelized edges and a yolk set just right. 

It’s a dramatic cooking process, really. The whites almost soufflé up as soon as the egg hits the hot oil and the brief moments of hissing and sputtering let me know there is magic happening in my pan. The first bite of the resulting lacy crisp that surrounds my perfectly round egg is over in about 30 seconds (because a cold crispy egg is depressing) but those 30 seconds are pure bliss.

Here’s how to achieve eggy perfection at home:

Crack an egg into a mug or small bowl. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, pour about 1/4 inch of olive oil. When the oil is very hot and starting to smoke, slip in the egg (stand back!) and immediately lower the heat to medium-low. Spoon some of the oil over the egg as it cooks. Cook for no more than a minute and a half, remove the pan from the heat, and use a slotted spoon or thin spatula to remove the egg. Eat immediately with good flaky salt.

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